High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time

( 5 )

Overview

What is it about a quality fastball that brings us to the edge of our seats? How is it humanly possible to throw faster than 100 mph? And the big question: Who is the fastest pitcher ever?

High Heat takes us on what filmmaker Ken Burns calls a "compelling, relentless, riveting" quest to deliver answers to the most intriguing questions about the fastball. Wendel provides insight into one of baseball's most exhilarating yet mystifying draws while exploring the remarkable feats and...

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Overview

What is it about a quality fastball that brings us to the edge of our seats? How is it humanly possible to throw faster than 100 mph? And the big question: Who is the fastest pitcher ever?

High Heat takes us on what filmmaker Ken Burns calls a "compelling, relentless, riveting" quest to deliver answers to the most intriguing questions about the fastball. Wendel provides insight into one of baseball's most exhilarating yet mystifying draws while exploring the remarkable feats and trials of the pitchers who have attempted to master it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, 1/24/11
“It's as much about hard science as putting mustard on the ball.”

TorontoGlobe and Mail, 3/12/11
“A book rich in the sort of anecdotes that baseball fans crave.”
 
WomanAroundTown.com, 3/29/11
“Wendel regales us with the quest for the fastest pitcher of all time.”
 
BiblioBuffet.com, 4/24/11
“A delightful, informative account…High Heat isn’t a precise and orderly book. Like having a conversation with a supremely informed and eloquent fan, you’ll find the usual array of diversions and revelations and personal observations. But damned if you don’t devour the book with a smile on your face and a refreshed perspective.”
 
Viva Tysons, March/April 2011
“[An] engrossing nonfiction book exploring the secrets behind baseball’s most formidable pitch.”
 

BaseballReflections.com, 1/17/11High Heat accomplishes the art of story-telling while remaining historically correct and informative…Anyone who is a SABR member, baseball historian, or avid fan of the game would truly enjoy the book…A wonderful read.”

University of Michigan Knight Wallace Fellows (website) “A fast-paced journey through the past and present of our national past time.”

Marc Tracy
"The mighty fastball could certainly ring up a lot of batters," Tim Wendel observes, "but sooner or later the ride always seemed to get too bumpy for every­one involved." In the wonderful High Heat, Wendel leverages that tension—the fastball as both blessing and bane—to mine a stunning amount of drama from the small cadre of pitchers throughout history who happened to be able to hurl a baseball really, really fast…Wendel's writing is also all fastballs. Sensitive and scrupulous…
—The New York Times
Library Journal
Wendel (Far From Home: Latino Baseball Players in America) moves across baseball history to show that choosing the fastest pitcher, and defending such a choice, is subjective: there are no agreed-upon criteria, since speed alone is not useful if you can't hit the plate. In our era of moneyball and sabermetrics, it's refreshing to read a book so vividly written that we can easily envision the old-time players and scouts spit tobacco juice to punctuate their opinions while disdaining mere radar readings. Wendel teaches us as much about the evolution of the values of our society as he does the development of the national pastime: will all information gathering rely only upon machinery, or will we trust our eyes, instincts, and judgment? Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
Intent on determining the fastest pitcher ever, Wendel (founding editor of USA TODAY Baseball Weekly) questions former and current players, managers, scouts, historians and other experts for insight into what has become one of the most prized proficiencies in all of sports. Wendel examines such high-heat icons as Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, but also brings readers along on field research: browsing, white-gloved, through documents at the National Baseball Hall of Fame; visiting a rural cemetery in search of the unusual grave marker of James Creighton ("the game's first true fireballer"); making his own fastball attempt at the American Sports Medicine Institute; and more. Wendel also reflects on the fastball's dark side, looking at the steroids era and batters struck (in one instance, killed) by high-speed pitches. Wendel's too-clever organization can muddle the narrative-chapters are arranged by the phases of a pitch ("The Windup," "The Pivot," "The Stride," etc.)-but he presents a satisfying search for the ultimate fastball pitcher, with a result that's just conclusive enough (going to the player "who persevered the most with what was bestowed upon him") while leaving plenty of room for baseball die-hards' second-favorite sport: debating other fans.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306819704
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 956,517
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Wendel is the author of eight books. A founding editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly, he has written for Esquire, GQ, and Washingtonian magazines. He lives in Vienna, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Pass on this one.For a professor at John's Hopkins I would have

    Pass on this one.For a professor at John's Hopkins I would have expected something more. I kept waiting for the really interesting parts to come out but the way he developed the story it never really happened. Pass on this one.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    Baseball History

    Great indepth and informative look at a subject every baseball fan loves to talk about. Tim did extensive research and met players we followed throughout our entire life.

    A good, fast & entertaining read

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    It's All about Control!

    If you are reading this review, you hopefully have an interest in our "national pastime" (let's not debate whether that is true anymore), fastballs, hardballs, and colorful baseball characters of various sizes, backgrounds, and, believe it or not, intellect. Yes, IQ is mentioned in a most interesting subplot! How the fastball came to be measured, how it has been rightly perceived as deadly, and how it has been seen as a baseball weapon to be harnessed and controlled (as well as being a gift from God) are all covered. This was a thoroughly interesting book that I could hardly wait to finish to loan to another baseball lover! Get it, read it, loan it! Play ball (and wear a batting helmet)!

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  • Posted April 22, 2010

    Not my cup of tea

    I never really got into this book,it started slow and had very few peaks. Some of it wasn't the authors fault, I really get bored reading about very old school baseball players,like Walter Johnson, cause there's no film of him playing so it's hard to know how hard he threw,who the author refrences a lot. His chapter titles hardly touched upon the content of the chapter and he seems to repeat himself a lot. I don't regret reading many baseball books, but this one really annoyed me.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    High Heat Scores

    Tim Wendel's book is excellent - he does a comprehensive, highly entertaining job of covering the subject of hard-throwing professional baseball pitchers. Wendel provides a creative, in-depth look at current and past great fastball pitchers, and the factors behind their success or lack thereof. This book is a must-read for baseball fans - Tim gives readers an inside view of the action through his interviews with great baseball pitchers, scouts, managers, etc. Through his extensive research, Wendel does an excellent job of recreating the setting, times and culture in which numerous great fastball pitchers performed. I highly recommend Tim's book.

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